Imagine All the People Sharing the World…

treeAfter I attended yet another funeral, I realized the power of our shared experiences as human beings.  At a time when our country feels so polarized, I am reminded that we are all born, live, and die in very similar ways.

After walking through the receiving line at the small funeral pallor, I was funneled into the area that held the various collages of family photos.  This part of a viewing is one of the most difficult for me.  Spread before the viewer is the unfolding of a well lived life.  There’s the photo of the deceased leaning on the side of the parked car.  He smiles from the top of the lifeguard stand on the beach long after the beach has cleared.  He stands behind his family with his arms draped on the shoulders of his two stepchildren, looking proud and happy.  I think back to my grandmother’s funeral, my best friends younger sister’s funeral, the funeral for my twenty-four year old cousin who died of Cystic Fibrosis and I remember the photos of their faces, lit from ear to ear with joy and life.  Pictures from proms and birthdays and weddings. Pictures from Christmases, Easters, and Halloweens all gone by and these moments stand in littered array at the end of their lines.  People pause and point at their favorites or they find the pictures that show occasions they also attended and they wipe the tears from their cheeks or they grin slightly at the memory.

We are all ushered into this world the same way.  A woman has carried us with her for many months and when the time was right for our entrance, we entered.  We live through holidays and celebrated experiences that were created by our society to remind us of our family or our unwavering traditions.  We live through ordinary days that are created by our jobs or our education.  Finally, we will meet our ends in whatever way has been determined and our visage will be only seen through the technology of the time that has preserved it.  How can we not see these major commonalities as a force that can unite us as opposed to divide?  Why can’t the knowledge of these things bring us together for the good of all and the view that all humanity matters?  Perhaps then people can stop being seen as illegals, or refugees, or welfare recipients or racists or pro-lifers.  We will never end bias by being biased.  It will only end when the things that make us similar outweigh the things that make us different.  It will end when we all support the other for the good of our world, not just our family, our community, our society, our country.

John Lennon sang it in 1971:

“You may say I’m a dreamer but I am not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.”

 

 

 

Mortality and the Empath

Last night I had a really difficult conversation with my two little boys. I told them that I was going to another funeral.  This is my third funeral in just one month’s time, and I have to be honest, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the thin line that separates us from life and death.  As an Empath, I feel so many things, and the one thing I know deep within myself is that we are all connected. I know that when I die, the part of me that connects with this Universe will go back to its metaphysical state.  It is only my physical self that will be gone, but my physical self is doing a really big job right now: taking care of my boys.

Flowers-Wallpaper-HD-Photos

When I told them that I was going to another funeral, my seven-year-old looked at me with melancholy eyes, “I don’t want you to ever die, Momma.”  I put my hand on his cheek, and I wanted to tell him that will never, ever happen, but there was something in me that stopped the words from forming.  It was the piece of me that knows the stories of children who lose parents and they never recover, they never move on.  The death of the parental figure scars them for life, and they become stagnant and filled with fear.  My ex-husband was one of these people.  His father died suddenly in his sleep after his 42nd birthday.  My ex-husband was only 14 years old at the time.  He was damaged by this loss and also from the reaction of his mother.  She shut down and went into herself.  She convinced her boys that their lives had changed for the worse and there was no climbing out.  She taught my ex-husband that life is unfair and it needlessly takes the ones we love.  She taught him that the death was the end of everything and needed to be feared and fought.  She raised a man who was negative, dark and afraid.  I was scared that if something did happen to me, the boys would not be able to see the world in the right way again.  I felt that this was one of those moments that I could teach them something they could use if the worst happened.

“Well,” I answered, “I do not think that is going to happen for a long, long time, but here is what you can do if it does.”  My ten year old looked up from his Pokemon cards.  “You can know that you are not alone and that I am always with you.  You can know that all you have to do is say my name, and I will find a way to be with you, even if you can’t see me.”

“But how will we know you are there if we can’t see you?” One of them asked.  It was a good question.

“You will feel me there,” I answered.  They both raised an eyebrow.

“No, really, Mom.  How can we know?”  They both asked at once.  I had to really think and then it came to me.

“I will send you a sign,” I said.  “What should it be?  If you call for me, I will be there and you will know you because I’ll give you this sign.”

“Hmmm,” my oldest started.  “You mean like a street sign?  How about a stop sign?”

“No,” I said.  “It has to be something like a bird or a penny in the street. ”

“Oh, ok, how about a butterfly?”  He pointed to the butterfly tattoo on my ankle.  “Whenever I see a butterfly, I will know it is you.”  I nodded in agreement, and we all determined that this would be the sign.

“So this way you can know that I will always be with you and looking out for you no matter what.” The boys seemed okay with this idea and we moved on to talk about simpler things. The next day was a play date with my son’s friend, Jake. Ellen’s 60th birthday special was on again today.

The conversation moved on, but I am still stuck in my head.  Is it wrong to discuss these types of things with two young boys?  Does it do more harm than good to have conversations about morbid what if scenarios?  Will I truly have the ability to send a sign when I am gone?  I still don’t have the answers, but I hope that I in some way made a tough situation a bit better for them.  Perhaps someday, many years in the future, when they are grown and old and I pass on, they will be sitting somewhere sunny and a small butterfly will land next to them and they will think of me.

A Third Poem- Grandmother’s Orchids

Grandmother’s Orchids

Her fingers were always crooked

Bent and twisted, bones protruding at awkward angles

Dipped in wax

She’d let me play too if I did the dishes first

 

Smelling of sweet menthol

Pale green drops to sooth a ragged throat

 

I lived with her for the summers

No place left to go

 

Tissues stuffed in between breasts and bra and shirt

Sitting on a porch that housed orchids on tepid plastic lunch trays

 

The orchids bloomed every few months

“That’s special,” she’d say.

Shoots green and strong springing up from darker, thicker leaves

skinny, bending roots curving in and out of terracotta planters

Intertwining with each other, almost touching each other across the distance

Trying to form some kind of chain

 

She’d gingerly pour water onto the rocks lining the tray underneath the roots

“To help with the humidity, you see,” she’d say.

 

Chinese Checkers

She’d play with me when the boredom became unbearable

Four channels were never enough

 

Grumbling–she’d push out the metal board with the rolling marbles

all colors because the good ones were lost.

 

Sometimes I would sit on the porch and stare at the orchids buds pushing open

towards the sunlight, leaning into the moisture

My fingers grazed the soft petals

And she swiped my hand “You’ll break them,” she’d say.

I ‘d draw my hand away, curl my fingers towards my palm and go back to the room

with four channels, away from the porch, on the side of the house, not near the sun

A poem about Divorce- Maybe

Maybe

Maybe we’re getting divorced because you put the stick of butter in front of the butter dish instead of in it.

Maybe we’re getting divorced because I vacuum and you just can’t see the dirt.

Maybe we’re getting divorced because I make more money than you and you stayed home to raise our boys.

Or the long commute or the fact that you snore when you sleep or the way my voice goes up an octave when I am really upset…Or the affairs and lies (yours, mine, ours) or the time you screamed that you hated me, you really hated me

There are a lot of relationships that survive more than this, you said.
You weren’t specific. One of our faceless therapists nods.
They don’t get divorced, you said. And “divorced” sounded poisonous, wrong.

You are right and I nod but in my heart my reasons are enough.
They all add up and congeal into one concise document with all of the wording just right.
The blame is left out of the margins and neat sentences cover up all of the pieces that read between the lines

You bend over to sign.

The pen smudges and curves

It no longer matters.

The end remains the same

What’s Your Language?

Yesterday I took the Love Languages Test.  I found it really interesting and truly accurate.

I few years ago, I read the book and made my best guess as to which language was my top one.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, here is description I took from the Love Languages website:

  1. Words of affirmation: These are things you say that are encouraging and affirming. I imagine that they are complimentary in nature as well.  Things like, ” I am so proud of you.”
  2. Acts of Service: These are things one can do for other people: cutting the lawn, taking out the trash, making dinner.  These acts service help the other person in some way with seemingly mundane tasks.
  3. Quality Time: This is time spent with another person where each person is actively listening and engaged with the other.
  4. Gift Giving or Receiving: This involves a tangible object that is given as a gift. It does have to be something big and expensive, but it shows thought.
  5. Physical Intimacy: The site was clear to state that this does not have necessarily involve sex, but it could include hand holding, hugging, cuddling.

Before I took the test, I already knew that a big one for me was Words of Affirmation.  A score in any one area can go as high as 12.  Words of Affirmation scored a 9.  This was followed by Acts of Service which scored an 8.  The final of the big three was Physical Intimacy with a score of 7.  Gift Giving/Receiving ended it all with a 1.

Again, I was not surprised by the way my scores played out, but it did start to give me additional clarity.  Some of my miscommunications with my boyfriend and children may stem from the fact that Gift Giving/Receiving is probably a much higher number for them.  My boyfriend gives me gifts all of the time, but he often finds it difficult to verbalize his feelings.  It’s important for me to put my feelings in check after I write him a detailed message about the reasons I find him so amazing and all I get is a t-shirt.  It also helps me to explain to him why he may feel like he is doing everything he can to help me feel loved, but I am being needy and distant all at the same time.

The other part of this text that I absolutely loved is the idea of a Love Tank.  We all have one and it is on various levels of filled and empty through the course of any given day.  My son running up to me just to kiss and hug me “hello”- Love Tank full.  My other son complains about the dinner I just made for our family- Love Tank empty.  It is not only important to know which language makes you feel like your tank is full, but also the language of your partner and children so they can feel full.

Overall, when we look at love as a reciprocal thing that has pre-conceived conditions for each person, it can give us more control over how we feel in our relationships.  Perhaps my not feeling loved is merely a matter of perception.  Or when I see how my son feels love simply by a small gift I procured at the store, I can know that his Love Tank is full.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Giving and receiving love…what could be simpler?

Click on the link below to find out what your love language.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Additional Resource from fiercemarriage.com:

More Poetry- Another Storm, Brother

Another Storm, Brother

Torrential down pour
Rain splattering against the window
But that isn’t what wakes me

Engine groaning, spinning but not catching as it should
Over and over it starts and stops until I stand
Feet on soft carpet

Slipping one finger through the tight metal blinds
Pushing one slat from another
From my bedroom
Your stalled 65’ Falcon
Navy blue with silver so polished it reflects like a full length mirror

So many times
You have peeled out of our driveway on its deep tires
And I always envied how you rolled away with your windows down
Arm extended as you straighten the rearview

You stop trying to start
And you leave your sanctity
the rain is coming down so hard
that your image blurs almost immediately
I push the blinds further apart to see where you are going

Standing at the rear you push forward
Nothing accomplished
Nothing gained
and I know
I should be out there

If nothing else maybe to see if you’re okay
because that’s what we all would have done
if this were an episode
of The Brady Bunch
but our family was never that together
and I am not strong enough to hear you yell
or watch you cry

I remove my finger
The metal catches and grabs and the slats are now crooked
And I can still see you continue to push
your prize
that is slowly starting to slide into the middle of the street
knowing that I am not
close enough
to help

Sometimes- A Break for Some Poetry

Sometimes I realize how close I am to the ground.

So close that I can see very small stones and pieces of dirt that I know taller people can’t see.

Sometimes I become very dissatisfied with myself and the fact that I often wear jeans twice in a row without washing them.

Sometimes I see people talk.

Their lips are moving in a fish-like motion.

They even look like fish…

large Angel fish, the kind that always rip the other fish to shreds and pluck out their eyes.

Then in the tank, you have these eyeless fish floating through the water.

They lack any real direction until they bump into glass walls.

Sometimes when people talk to me

I watch their teeth and their tongue moving back and forth, up and down.

Their words are soundless. Their eyes are bright.

There are no Angel fish to pluck them out.